In a city that considers itself to be cosmopolitan, it’s a sorry state of affairs that we’re able to count on one hand the restaurants that stay open past midnight to fuel the folk heading home after a night on the town, at the movies or – as is too often the norm – working late.
Welcome, Ramona. Popping up in a perfect spot in the heart of downtown São Paulo, the restaurant has established a good reputation since it opened in July 2012. For the first few months, you could pitch up at anytime until 2am every night, but given a lack of nocturnal appetite earlier in the week, the restaurant now closes at midnight on Mondays and Tuesdays. On our last visit, on a Tuesday night, we had the place to ourselves, whereas we’ve waited for half an hour on a busy Friday night.
Staff, whose hip uniforms comprise white shirts and waistcoats, are attentive and courteous, greeting patrons with a smile and the all-too-rare custom of a free jug of filtered water.
Since it’s owned by the same cool crowd behind rock club Alberta #3, just two doors down, it’s no surprise to discover Ramona has excellent cocktails. Their bloody mary (R$24) – served with two slices of crispy bacon – features as one of our choice of the city's ten most creative cocktails.
The slices of grilled zucchini with roasted plum tomatoes, goats’ cheese and sea salt (R$17) is a solid choice of starter. We followed that with the mouth-watering Ramona cheeseburger (R$33), packing a 200g beef patty, a fried egg, homemade mayonnaise, lettuce, and slices of tomato and gourmet cheese from the Serra da Canastra region of Minas Gerais. The penne rigate (R$32) was comforting, but forgettable.
If you’re there on a busy night, chances are there’ll be someone among the mostly media and artsy crowd with enough talent to bash out some tunes on the piano that stands just inside the restaurant’s glass-fronted entrance. We’ve heard impromptu ballads played that were good enough to earn a round of applause – and good enough for the DJ to be moved to turn off the music.
Groups of up to six can squeeze into one of two cosy blue leather booths. Solo diners should request a seat by the large windows upstairs, with a view of downtown’s comings and goings, or at one of the tables lining the side windows downstairs, overlooking a charming cactus garden planted outside. If you want to swap desserts for dancing, Ramona customers get free entry to Alberta #3. Bonus.